Rep. Bryan Slaton resigns before expulsion vote in Texas House
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas House unanimously voted to expel Representative Bryan Slaton after an investigation showed he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 19-year-old staff member.
The investigation states he provided her with enough alcohol before their encounter that she felt dizzy and had double vision.
Ed Espinoza, Democratic analyst, and Matt Mackowiak, co-chair of the Travis County GOP, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.
MIKE WARREN: Ed, the House Journal investigative panel, in addition to the alcohol and the sex, found that Representative Slaton tried to cover it all up. Are you satisfied with how the House has handled this?
ED ESPINOZA: This was a quick wrap up of this investigation with quick action. I am satisfied with it. I think it was necessary. It was a rare act of bipartisanship from the Texas legislature, which is important here. But we should also look at the acts leading up to this, in addition to the things you just mentioned, Mike. There were also three employees, three staffers that had complained and four elected officials. There was a lot corroborating what had taken place here. In fact, former Representative Slaton himself did not deny any of these things. Kind of what makes you wonder, what was the environment that Slaton was living in where he thought that any of this was okay? Fortunately, it's come to a quick end.
MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, questionable relationships between lawmakers and staffers and interns have happened before. Does there need to be a culture change at the Capitol?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Well, I think if you asked most current or former female staffers of the legislature, they would emphatically answer yes to that. I was reading a message from a longtime Capitol staffer who's now a lobbyist who is a female last night or excuse me, just today, I guess. And she was actually heartened that this happened so quickly. It shows that that things have changed. And I think that's positive. Look, you can't have a senior person, the person who, you know, the principal in the office taking advantage of staff. There's a power imbalance there. It creates problems. That intern must have wondered, well, if I don't go to his apartment or if I don't have a drink with him, is it going to affect my professional career? Slaton has bigger problems, I think. Can I hope than just being expelled from the house? He now may have criminal problems. I'm not just feeding alcohol to someone underage, but perhaps witness intimidation or witness tampering with this investigation. So it's a good thing he's gone. The interns and the staff in his office are a lot safer than that House district. When I have a special election, and we can move on. Again, glad to see this was done in a bipartisan way.
MIKE WARREN: Ed Espinoza, getting back to the culture at the Capitol. What do you think it is and what needs to change?
ED ESPINOZA: Well, it shows that there are some institutional cultures at the Texas legislature that far lack the real world. What the rest of us have to deal with in the private sector and in the public workspace that's outside the Capitol. And these are the people who are making laws. Bryan Slaton, former representative, now former Representative Bryan Slaton was the person who had introduced the drag bills saying that people would be grooming others. Well, look, look at the situation he found himself in where he was essentially taking advantage of a young staffer. Look, the House needs to deal with get a reality check when it comes to these things because it is a problem. Attorney General Ken Paxton was in the news with a similar problem, according to the Associated Press just a few years ago. Yeah, I'm glad the House acted quickly. I would really be much happier if they just changed their act altogether.
MIKE WARREN: Okay. Well, this chapter is over for now, and we are out of time. Ed Espinosa, Matt Mackowiak, thank you both very much.